The Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Program at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma was established in 1945 and is the second oldest such program west of the Mississippi River. Currently, the Division of Education and Speech Language Pathology offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Deaf Education. Graduates of the program are employed in a wide variety of educational settings, including public school programs, residential schools, and charter and private schools for deaf and hard of hearing students. The USAO Deaf Education Program prepares teachers to provide appropriate and effective educational opportunities to deaf and hard of hearing students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grades. Graduates who have completed  the program meet the requirements set forth by the Oklahoma Commission on Teacher Preparation and are eligible for certification from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, as well as the Council on Education of the Deaf.

There is currently a shortage of educators of deaf and hard of hearing students in states throughout the nation. Graduates in this field are, therefore, in high demand and generally have many employment options available to them. Although salaries vary from state to state, teachers in special education fields are frequently compensated at a higher rate than other teaching professionals.

The USAO Deaf Education curriculum includes coursework from the liberal arts, professional education, and deaf education areas. Students will also select an area of specialization, such as early childhood education, elementary education, or a secondary subject matter area. This broad-based, interdisciplinary curriculum enables students to develop a breadth of knowledge and skills that will prepare them to be effective educators. 

The Deaf Education faculty provide a comprehensive program that addresses the diverse philosophies, methodologies, and educational options encountered in the field. The forty-hour core of specialized Deaf Education coursework focuses on areas such as American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, language and literacy development, aural-oral communication, curriculum development, and instructional methods. In addition to academic coursework, students are involved in a variety of field-based practicum experiences in classrooms for deaf and hard of hearing students. Graduates of the program are well-prepared to meet the educational needs of deaf and hard of hearing students of varying ages, abilities, and needs.

The goal of the USAO Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Program is to prepare highly qualified teachers to meet the unique needs of deaf and hard of hearing students in a variety of educational settings. The program does not advocate any one type of philosophy or methodology for all students who are deaf or hard of hearing, but emphasizes the importance of individualizing educational programs to fit individual children. We recognize that children with hearing losses are an extremely diverse group in terms of their needs and abilities and may need different types of educational programs and use different modes of communication at different periods in their lives to meet their changing academic and social needs. We believe that teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing should be grounded in a sound understanding of general pedagogy and cultural and community values, including affiliation with the Deaf Community and their culture.

Coursework and practicum experiences are designed to prepare graduates to:

Work with deaf and hard of hearing students with a wide range of abilities.

Design, implement, and valuate effective and appropriate individual education programs based on the strengths and needs of the student.

Work with children and families from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic conditions.

Collaborate with other professionals to provide effective instruction to students in a variety of educational settings.

Practicum Experiences:

Deaf Education majors have the opportunity to participate in four different practicum experiences. Practicum I students complete 75 hours of observation in a deaf education classroom. Practicum II students complete 75 hours of observation and participation in a deaf education classroom setting in their area of specialization. The professional trimester experience, which usually occurs during the student's final trimester in the program, consists of a minimum of 60 days of involvement and participation in classes for deaf and hard of hearing students.  The professional trimester is divided into two segments, allowing the candidate to gain experience with young children at the early childhood or elementary lever and with older students at the secondary level, including middle school, junior high, and high school classes. Upon completion of all four practicum experiences, the USAO Deaf Education major will have had a variety of experiences in educational placements with children of differing ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds.

Support Services:

Multiple sources of student support are available at USAO. Computer labs are located in each academic building and in Nash Library. A writing lab and a math lab are available to all students and are staffed with tutors to provide assistance. Deaf Education faculty provide academic advising for all Deaf Education majors. A variety of services are available to deaf and hard of hearing students, including interpreting, note taking, and other types of assistance based on the needs of individual students. Accommodations for students with other types of disabilities are also provided. For more information about pursuing a career in Education of the Deaf, contact Dr. Vicki Ferguson, Chair, Division of Education and Speech-Language Pathology.